PROTECT YOUR LOCAL & SPECIALTY CLUBS by BONNIE GUGGENHEIM
H as your kennel club ever been sued? Have you had an exhibitor fall in the ring? A judge slip enter- ing the building? A dog bite a child? A spectator who paid to attend your show is knocked over by an exhibitor with crates on a dolly? In any of the situations, liability could be the determining factor in what happens to your kennel club, unless you are properly insured by a Commercial General Liability policy with adequate limits to protect your club, the venue and your officers, directors and volun- teer working members. Next concern is your treasury. Big or small, you must have funds to put on your show which includes payment to judges, the superintendent, lunches or dinners for judges and members, raffle or auction expenses and all the many other costs involved with putting on a show. A Fidelity Bond policy would protect your kennel club, your directors and show chair, plus give your mem- bers confidence that the money earned by the club is protected from theft or embezzlement. Anyone serving as a treasurer should also be bonded and the club should insist on a Position Bond so they are able to elect a new treasurer and know the insurance is in place; no specific name is required. Your books should, of course, be audited with each change in the treasurer’s office. Depending on the amount of money and the financial circumstances of your club, the audit may or may not be a cer- tified audit but could be performed by an outside source offering this service. Limits on a Fidelity (or Crime coverage) policy are determined by the company underwriting the policy and the num- ber of Board and kennel club members. “YOU MUST HAVE FUNDS TO PUT ON YOUR SHOW.”
Most important in this determination is the amount of money in your treasury. Some companies will include your res- cue funds (most do not) and some will include your funds for your Canine Health Foundation accounts. Be certain to cover as much as the company will offer as the premiums for this type of insurance are very reasonable. If your assets were wiped out, could you put on a show? Back to the Commercial General Lia- bility policy. Today it seems everyone is subject to allegations of liability that are a result of your dog show, possibly your conformation classes and even Meet The Breed events hosted by your kennel club. For the CGL to cover any accident or injury, your club must be legally lia- ble and negligence must be proven. The cost of defense even when you are found not liable is high and should your club be liable for whatever reason, claims can be extremely high. The frightening part of this—and do check your club policy and your homeowner policy—is each director and officer can be held personally accountable. An attorney hired to sue the club will include the venue, your officers and directors and anyone additional involved. I’m person- ally aware a lawsuit that included the city the show was held in! Final insurance your all breed or spe- cialty club should consider is Directors and Officers Liability. As a general rule, this is the most costly of the types of insurance discussed, but personally, I would not serve as an officer or direc- tor of a club that did not carry it. This type of insurance provides coverage or protection from claims as a result of club activities to include misleading statements, breach of duty, neglect, error or acts of omission. The company underwriting will have specific ver- biage to clarify all coverage. Discuss all your needs with the agent or agen- cy you decide to purchase your insur- ance from. You can request a quote so your board or members can vote on the
amount of insurance your club needs to carry as well as discuss the various types of coverage. Coverage can be adjusted based on what underwriting can offer and the club budget. My reason for including this brief insurance lesson is simple. Unfortunate- ly, several years ago, I was Show Chair of a fairly large and active all breed club that was accused of negligence in pre- venting injury to an exhibitor. The ken- nel club was sued, the city, the large civ- ic center and all officers and directors of the board were personally sued. The person who claimed negligence stated that she stepped into the building and slipped on a wet floor falling and break- ing several bones. She said there were no cones indicating a wet floor and no warning signs were posted—probably some dog relieving himself there was her comment. In reality, and there were several witnesses, she stepped out of her motor home in the parking lot and stepped onto a dolly she planned to load wire crates on to pull dogs into the build- ing. Her foot became entangled she went down. She then got up, loaded and pulled the dolly with dogs on it (in wire crates) and entered the building. Upon entering, she stated she slipped on the wet floor and was ultimately taken to the hospital as a result of the fall inside the building. Exhibitors saw her fall in the parking lot and others saw her enter the building where she supposedly slipped and fell and stated she did not fall inside at all. Fortunately, this club had the appropriate insurance and no liability was assigned to the club or any of the members. She received no money and the claim was denied. It was a learning experience for all concerned and one I discuss with every club I’m involved with. The person discussed later passed away in an auto accident. Protect your club, your members and your money—learn about insur- ance, club and personal liability and make sure you’re covered!
54 • T op N otch T oys , F ebruary 2017
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